This month I was one of 50,000 people who raced in The New York City Marathon. Nobody made me be there but me, and I trained through the sweaty NYC summer for one main purpose: to show other people that they can do the same.
Despite my present healthy and active lifestyle, I spent a long time being out of shape. In high school, I feigned illness to get out of running a mile in gym class. In college, I ate horribly and my body felt the same way. While I was enjoying junk food and sofa sitting, my father ran marathons. My family and I became avid marathon spectators, traveling every single year to cheer for Team Hoyt at The Boston Marathon, a race that celebrates health, strength and fitness. Every single year when The Hoyts sped by our screaming and sign holding, I said maybe that would be me someday. However, I quickly wrote myself off as being not equipped for such a feat.
After 34 years of spectating, I finally got off the couch and began to train. I ran my first ever marathon in 2013, when I secured a spot on The Hoyt Foundation's charity team for The Boston Marathon.
Now marathon running has changed my whole lifestyle. My daily routine is full with hours of training and discipline in my diet and social life, but I haven’t gotten rid of all the things I love to eat! When I’m in training, Smoothie King saves me from major dessert cravings. The Pumpkin Spice Smoothie is even made with nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium and protein – all things marathon runners need after a workout and to avoid missing runs.
Racing makes you feel wonderful physically, but racing with a purpose is even better. When I race with a purpose, I challenge myself to live the best life I possibly can and inspire someone else to do the same, just like Team Hoyt and Smoothie King do for me. I run so that my friends will run with me. I show up so that a spectator might be inspired to try running themselves. I put in all the work so that I can be the best for my family, my friends, and my students. Then I hope they will do the same for others. That’s how we change the whole world, right?
Running down the streets of New York City, I got to hug family, friends and even some of my Team Hoyt teammates. I ran behind a man wearing a picture of his son who passed away, and I told him his son was proud. I high-fived my friend's 5-year-old son as he smiled behind the barricade. I saw injured runners and sent them my love. I thanked volunteers and cheered with the spectators. I caught a couple guys walking at mile 26 and made them run again with me.
The 2015 NYC Marathon may not have been my fastest marathon, but it was my 7th marathon in less than 3 years, and that is a huge milestone. Being fit feels incredible, and running 26.2 miles makes you feel like a superhero capable of anything. Running a marathon might never ever get easier, but I do feel more comfortable with the process. And if just one of those one million spectators takes steps to start running, that's enough of a reason for me to keep going.
So what's next for me? Marathon #8 is coming up in just a couple of weeks in Philadelphia, and I cannot wait. I hear they have a Smoothie King…
Dana Krashin is a marathon runner, comedian, and teacher living in New York City. She can be found at @followthatfannypack on Instagram and @thatfannypack on Twitter.